Welington Castillo or Steve Clevenger?

Welington Castillo or Steve Clevenger?

There are a few races left for spots on the opening day roster. There's some jobs left in the bullpen. Adrian Cardenas is making a late run at Blake DeWitt, and perhaps a spot or two in the rotation.  Normally nobody pays much attention to the backup catcher role, but that may be the tightest race of all.  So who should the Cubs take north with them?  Let's compare the two...

Spring Stats

Castillo has hit .357/.400/.536 for the spring with 1 HR.  Clevenger has hit .321/.344/.607 with 2 HRs.  Unusual in that Clevenger has had slightly better power and Castillo has had the better OBP -- the opposite of how they project in the majors.  It's too close to base it on spring stats along.  I'll call this one a wash.


Hitting for Average

Clevenger is the more polished hitter.  He's a lifetime .304 hitter in the minor leagues. Castillo is a lifetime .265 hitter

Edge: Clevenger

Plate Discipline

Castillo used to be as hacktastic a player as you'd find but had a respectable 8.7% walk rate last year and continues to improve in that area.  Clevenger, however, routinely surpasses that mark and was at 9.8% last year.  Clevenger gets the edge here, but Castillo has closed the gap considerably

Edge: Clevenger


Castillo is the bigger player and it definitely shows up in the power department.  He has the potential to hit 15-20 HRs while Clevenger is more of a singles and doubles hitter.

Edge: Castillo


Castillo has made great strides in the receiving part of his game.  He's always had the tools but the focus wasn't always there.  He has gone from being occasional sloppy to solid average, perhaps a bit more, in that area, but Clevenger may be a bit better at this stage.

Slight Edge: Clevenger

Throwing Arm

Clevenger has an average arm but Castillo has a cannon.

Edge: Castillo


Clevenger bats lefty and makes for a better complementary player as far as matchups are concerned.

Edge: Clevenger


Although it may never come into play, Clevenger can play 1B and 3B if needed.  Castillo is strictly a catcher.

Edge: Clevenger

Player Development

Clevenger is the more polished player and also has the lower ceiling, so he's less likely to be less hurt by missing additional time in AAA.  Castillo has starting potential but needs to work on being more consistent with his receiving and perhaps continuing to improve on his plate discipline.

Edge: Clevenger

Roster Situation/Options/Cost Control

This part is pretty inconsequential as both are on the 40 man roster, although Clevenger does have an extra option.  You could argue that Castillo could be a starter and delaying his service time would save the Cubs more money than Clevenger, who's destiny is likely to be a backup.


It's a close call, but I think Clevenger fits the profile of a backup catcher better and in the end, Castillo might be better served to get ABs everyday. On the other hand, Castillo really doesn't have a lot to prove at AAA and may be better served by the MLB coaching staff to continue his development.

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  • There's a lot of Cub history in that word "hacktastic". Hack Wilson and Stan Hack, to wit.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Of course! Those guys probably gave that word a better name than I intended though!

  • This is my favorite time of Spring Training. Finalizing the 25 man roster. Guys still fighting for spots. Rumors of trades to clear roster room. There are always surprises, no matter how set the roster might have looked when camp began.

  • It is fun, totally agree. And even though it looks like things are rounding into shape, a surprise or two can still happen -- especially if the Cubs are able to find a deal they like.

  • Although I continue to nurse my injured pysche over the loss of Koyie Hill, I struggle to move forward. Hard to argue Clevenger as the back up but it would surely seem like a trade of Castillo or Soto would be a fairly likely prospect.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Haha! Just give it some time Hubbs, it heals all wounds.

    I agree on a trade down the line. I don't think you can really keep Soto and Castillo long term unless you think Castillo's ceiling is as a backup. It's an interesting choice. Soto's the better player, but he's going to get expensive and he's getting past his prime years, so maybe you take a good deal for Soto and go with the cheaper Castillo while you rebuild.

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    I say Clevenger to start the season, but if Welington is still doing, er, well and Soto has trade-value come June/July, then trade Soto and bring up Castillo to catch along with Clevenger

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    I'm on board with that idea.

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    As inconsistent as Soto is, I'm not much of a fan of Castillo. I think offensively he projects to be similar to Soto's "down" years, hitting low .200's with 15+ hr's, but the kicker is his defense has been subpar, as I've said before, his footwork behind the plate is not good. If Castillo were a very solid defender a team could accept a very low average/obp but a decent share of hr's, but he's not a very good defender. He's young, 24, and still could improve, but how many guys go from being bad on defense to very good on defense?

    If Soto ever figured out how to be consistent, he would look great, having hit .280 or better with his 17+ hr's every other year, but I think time has run out on any hope Soto is going to learn consistency. The good news is this is an every other year, so according to his past, Soto should have a good season.

    I just can't see Castillo as anything more than a 1-2 year starting catcher unless he suddenly improves. He's the type of guy that will bounce from team to team, frustrating coaches because he has good talent but the production has never been there. He's never had a huge season in the minors, and his batting average has not been great in the minors, which doesn't bode well for facing MLB pitching.

    If they want to move Soto in the next year I'm afraid we'd still be in need of a starting catcher.

    Clevenger may hit for average but he's not going to drive in enough runs in the majors to lock down a starting job, although he is well suited to have a long career as a backup catcher (good contact, good defense, and being a left handed hitter is a plus). Clevenger is very much a Paul Bako type of catcher but with better contact, and we saw how long Bako hung around MLB as mostly a backup who was occasionally pressed into full time duty.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I think of Castillo as a fringe starter. If you're a second division team, you can probably afford to go with him until your team gets better. His receiving skills have improved and I think it can be average long term. When you pair that with his ability to shut down the opponents running game, I think you have a catcher who is above average overall on defense.

    The hope for him offensively is that he hits something like his minor league averages, .260 with a .320 OBP and 15-20 HR power. Overall that's a decent starter but not a great one.

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